Friday, June 26, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: STEVEN SAVILE

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.

It's the last in the series, and we finish off with a visit from trasplanted Geordie, the Sweden-based author and general frenetic Master of Words, Steven Savile:





I’ll admit I’ve had the hardest time trying to come up with some sort of routine, habit, good luck charm, or indeed something remotely interesting about my working patterns. I mean, what do I do that’s so different from anyone? What little rituals or quirks? Err. Look, here’s the thing: I’m incredibly boring. I get up late because I work into the early hours, though now the new puppy—five months at the time of writing—doesn’t seem to respect the idea that I need to sleep, not when there’s bright sunshine out there to go playing in. So maybe I should say my new-found talent is writing with bleary eyes?

            When I was younger I used to have a lucky sea bean that I took to all of my exams – it was with me through my mocks, my ‘O’ Levels, ‘A’ Levels, my accountancy degree before I dropped out and sold my soul to politics for the BA and then Religion and Philosophy for the MA. It was there on my desk forever. The first girl I’d ever kissed had given it to me. It was what the movie people like to call a meet-cute. I’d been running up the stairs in the hotel, she appeared at the top and flashed this gorgeous smile, which resulted in me slipping and falling down a full flight of stairs. Yeah, you’re just not going to forge that kind of meeting. I had been fourteen, coming up fifteen I guess. That sea bean came with me to Sweden and survived my first marriage, but somewhere along the way with so many moves it got lost. So the one interesting fetish I have to talk about… consigned to the dim and distant dusty archives of the past.

            In the immortal words of the poet of Springfield, “Doh!”

            Which basically left me thinking what the hell am I going to talk about?

            What one thing is ever present in my work ritual?

            What one thing could I not do this without?

            What makes it all right with the world?

            And it hit me, it’s the most honest answer I could give: music.

            I used to be the kind of writer that couldn’t manage a word if there was the slightest noise in the house, I needed absolute silence, needed the wife out at work, not banging around with the vacuum cleaner while I laboured over my ‘Art’ ahem. And then a little coffee shop opened up just down the road from our flat. I used to work for 3-4 hours at home, then hustle down to get my caffeine fix, maybe read or make notes in a good old fashioned notebook (remember these were the days of 40 minute batteries on the laptop) as a reward for a decent day’s writing. Then I started to think, hmm, I’ve got 90 minutes battery on the new laptop, maybe I could try… but it was so noisy with people talking that I was going crazy. Second day, stubbornly, I decided to try again but this time with my iPod (the original one, the white brick with the less than intuitive wheel) and this time I maybe managed a couple of paragraphs in the 90 minutes, because I had to turn the music up so loudly I couldn’t hear the constant blather of people around me. One thing I really ought to admit up front is I’m stubborn. It’s not my most endearing trait, but when it comes to work, it’s pretty useful. I kept at it, for a week, then another, then the strangest thing happened—I noticed that I couldn’t really concentrate without the music in my ears because it had a way of tunnelling the world down to just me and the page, nothing else. The trick, I realised, was to only play tunes I knew the lyrics to so well I wasn’t actively listening to them. So I took what had been something I used to love—listening to music—and turned it into an essential part of the background for my working life.




            The thing is I love music. I will consciously end my working day by turning the lights off in my study (I converted the basement into a proper man cave) and cranking up the volume on some crackly old vinyl and simply sitting in my leather armchair, closing my eyes and just listening—actively listening for the sake of listening—to the music, deliberately making it the sole activity, like it used to be when we were young. So many of my favourite memories involve putting LPs on for the first time, listening to the sequence of songs as the band wanted them to be listened to, the big opening track, the triumphant end to side one, opening to another big opening track on side two, rather than listening the way my iPod is set, which is that wonderful chaos of random shuffle, with around 15,000 tracks to choose between. I’ve even got to the stage where I fetishise my music – I’ve got limited edition picture discs, rare German pressings of the same album I’ve already got on CD, MP3 and vinyl (purely because the cassette I grew up with had a different mix of a single track on it and I was gripped with something akin to horror the first time I heard the vinyl and it was just wrong… yeah thank you Hue and Cry!), I scour Ebay and Tradera, the Swedish version of Ebay and spend hours on Discogs which is basically black crack heaven, looking for songs I used to love and rebuilding the vinyl collection I sold when I emigrated in 1997.




            I’ve divided my listening, too. There’s work listening – like right now, typing this The Lightning Seeds’ Ready or Not just came on. A couple of minutes ago it was Camelogue from the Single Factor by Camel, 3 mins 44 seconds of Prog Rock awesomeness recorded in 1982 at Abbey Road, and as Ian Brody’s voice fades it’s Neil Peart’s drums that kick in for The Good News First. There’s no rhyme or reason to what shuffle throws up, but they all have one thing in common, I love every single track. And then there’s pleasure listening, where I do nothing but listen. The music is the be all and end all, not the background.

            My routine is pretty much the same every day, order the latte and a coke, which will see me through a 2 hour plus session, headphones on, hit play, find the right opening track, open the laptop, abuse Lee or Brian or Stefan on Facebook over the football, and then write. The acoustic demo of This Land is Your Land by the Counting Crows just replaced Rush by the way.

            I think in part my love of music goes back to my youth. I was a fairly solitary kid, one of the first with divorced parents actually, which had the headmaster telling me they had their eye on me, like they expected me to fly off the rails at any second. It’s Big Dish now, Faith Healer, if you’re playing along at home. Anyway, the first time I had money I had a choice, buy a Sinclair Spectrum or a hifi – I bought an AWIA all-in-one – the best decision I ever made. I spent a small fortune collecting 12” singles and 7” versions of the same songs. Last week I actually bought the hand written lyrics to Love is a Wonderful Colour by The Icicle Works which I had framed with my 7” single and is now on the wall in my office. I’ve got my eye on Hue and Cry’s Labour of Love and Love and Money’s Hallelujah Man to make up the hall of fame above my desk, and if Roddy Frame ever decides to do handwritten lyrics for Oblivious, well that would be my holy grail. So, yeah, music. Oh, Moist, See Touch Feel.

            Nice.




Funny story about Moist, when I was finishing Silver, I mean literally finishing, random shuffle kicked up the last song, Silver, by Moist (spooky eh? The last words were written as David Usher sang the last words of the song) and when I took my headphones off, the cafĂ© was playing Madonna’s True Blue, which had been one of my girlfriend’s favourite songs back in the day. I checked my email and got the news from Vicky’s sister that she’d committed suicide. Yeah, music. Not so funny, maybe, but the sheer force with which memory binds to music is incredible.

I got to meet one of my favourite musicians of the 80s (and now, his new stuff is excellent), James Grant, and was lucky enough to become friends with him… so we were chatting one day and I said, you know, it’s weird, but you, Roddy, some of the other guys, you’ve been with me at every major life experience, an ever present. He smiled and nodded, said yeah, and I said, which means, I suppose you were there when I lost my virginity. That shut him up.

Well, well, haven’t listened to this one for a while, Howard Jones, Hide and Seek.




            Every now and then when I want to relax I’ll trawl YouTube and make a Top 20 tracks according to my state of mind that day, which is rarely the same as my other Top 20s if you’re paying attention. I’m even part of a group on Facebook where we take photos of our equipment (mind out of the gutter, Battersboy) and whatever album cover we’re listening to. It’s all vinyl lovers and its about showing off the art and, essentially, fetishizing the experience of what we’re listening to. I prefer it to that little notation Spotify used to post that said ‘Steve just listened to Marillion’s Gazpachio on Spotify’. Sometimes all the mod cons just aren’t the same.

            But that’s it.

Nothing that exciting really.

The only ever present when I write is music.


Well, music and coffee, but I figured a 1700 word post about the right coffee bean might have been a bit much… 








Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Risen, and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L'eridita.  He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, SHADOW OF THE JAGUAR, published by Titan, in 2010, and The inaugural Lifeboat to the Stars award for TAU CETI (co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson). He                                                                                       has lived in Sweden for the last 17 years.




Well, biddy-biddy-biddy, that's all folks. At the start of the series I set out to get an insight into those little momentoes, rituals, and all-round fetishes that help define the creative practices of some of my colleagues, peers and friends. It's been a fun ride: I hope you've enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

TAKE THUMBNAIL THURSDAY'S WIFE... PLEASE.

Sigh. There's a growing up phase we all have to go through, right? Talk about give-an-old-joke-a-home-week......



"The bottom's really dropped out of the virgin business, hasn't it?"


Friday, June 19, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: MARIANNE DE PIERRES

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.


Today we welcome author and best possible buddy movie companion to the teensiness that is my wife, Marianne de Pierres:



My writing fetish works in reverse. That is, instead of using it to prepare myself for writing, I employ the reward strategy. I tell myself that if I complete a good writing session, I’m allowed to watch my favourite TV shows afterward. That, in turn, feeds my creative needs and stimulates my story-brain.




It’s a little loop that’s been working well for me for a while, though I have to guard against it getting out of balance – i.e. more TV watching that writing! I found that being able to submerge into someone else’s world both calming and energising. Occasionally, I’ll broaden the reward system to include an outside event. For instance, this week I went to a dramatic read through of a steampunk adaptation of The Secret Garden. It was great to hear some oral storytelling for a change: story-brains need to be very well fed on interesting characters and engrossing plots.


Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular PARRISH PLESSIS trilogy and the award-winning SENTIENTS OF ORION and PEACEMAKER series. The PARRISH PLESSIS series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the PEACEMAKER series is being adapted into a novel adventure game.
Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy a dark fantasy series for teens.
Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons–before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.







Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY ASKS PUNCH TO MIND THE BABY

"Before we start tonight's lesson, let's say hello to a new student."


I can't remember what point I was going to satirise in this one. There's a bunch of ideas going on here, but maybe I've just grown beyond a point where any angle on domestic violence is funny anymore, or maybe it's just one of those convergence of ideas where it's more intriguing than funny to begin with. Ah well, for what it's worth......

Friday, June 12, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: TRENT JAMIESON

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.


Today we welcome Queensland author Trent Jamieson:






I have so many fetishes that they circle me in a confused maelstrom of pay-attention-to-mes and you-must-do-thises. But there is one constant, and it's been that constant for nearly eighteen years. The city of Brisbane.

I know it's more a place than a thing. But it fills me with such pleasure. I catch my bus into work, and I'll write there, or I'll write in the office before I start work on certain days, or in a cafe (I have my favourites), or I'll walk around GOMA and then try and sneak a writing session in the Red Box at the State Library. I do most of my writing at home, but so many of my favourite scenes in my books have been written on buses or in those places.

Brisbane is my first city (I grew up in Gunnedah, finished my schooling in Lismore so I'm very much a country child) and it is the ultimate city to me. And it always will be.

When I write here, when I travel through her streets, or look down at the placid Brisbane River (like all rivers given to the occasional rages), or up to the supple rises of Mt Coot-tha I feel better for it. Brisbane is a small city, but it still surprises me, and comforts me, and irritates me - and all those things make stories.

As fetishes go it is a hard one to put in your pocket or on your wall. But Brisbane is generous. She's given me a piece of her and I keep her in my heart.

 

 
Trent Jamieson's Death Works Trilogy of novels is available from Orbit books, and a continuation The Memory of Death is available through Momentum Books. Roil, and Night’s Engines are available from Angry Robot. His latest book Day Boy will be published by Text in June. His webpage is www.trentjamieson.com






Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY SMASH!

Hulk need someone to talk to. Hulk need personal growth.

Years after doodling it, this remains one of my favourites. 


"Really, all that 'Smash' business embarrasses me now. I wasn't angry with the world. i was angry at myself."



Friday, June 05, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: AJ SPEDDING

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.


Today we welcome author, editor and publisher AJ Spedding:


 
 
This has taken a little longer to get to Lee than I initially thought – life and work tend to conspire. I also wasn’t quite sure what to write when it came to rituals or routines to get the creative juices flowing (easy). But it all begins with my desk. It’s my little corner of creative heaven in my house (although my husband calls it ‘hell’s corner’, bless), and I’m sure some would say my stuff is a little macabre, but each has special meaning and represents something to do with my writing and the people who support me in that endeavour.

 

It’s also where, once I sit, I’m surrounded by all that I need to both work (as an editor) and write. I have a pretty strict routine when it comes to the division of editing versus my own writing – I work a standard eight-hour day for editing client work, then once the kids are off doing their own thing after dinner, I sit down to write.

If I had to narrow it down to one specific thing (and that’s damn difficult), it would have to be a good cup of coffee – if I could organise it, I’d drip feed it, but apparently that’s illegal – but without it… no coffee makes AJ something something bitchy something bitch, bitch.

There are also the staples any writer/editor needs – a slew of reference books; pens, pens and more pens; a pile of notebooks, and a whiteboard to keep me on track. But it’s my little pieces of horror that keep me focussed on my writing.

There are times when I’m working on another’s piece that the desire to write seems almost overwhelming, but work always takes precedence. Still, all I have to do is look up at my mini Cerberus or my quill and ink and be reminded that working from home not only gives me the freedom to hang with my kids more than an ‘outside’ job would, but that my work also supports my passion to write.


 

That doesn’t mean the writing comes easy. Sometimes it’s difficult to turn off ‘work’ mode, and other times it’s bouts of writer-imposteritis that hits hard. That’s when particular items of my collection do their job – and these are the ones most associated with my writing, and my most treasured. My Australian Shadows Award trophy – Zombie Hyde, who looks down rather sternly at me and makes me want to be a better writer; the artwork (by the brilliant Andrew J McKiernan) that accompanied one of my stories, Nightmare’s Cradle, in ASIM; and a crow skull gifted me from Geoff Brown when I finished the first draft of my novel. These three pieces let me know that I can do this writing gig, regardless of the little voice in my head that tells me I’m shit.
 
 
 
Artwork also plays a major part in reminding where my passion lies – evocative images that always draw me back to ideas and plots. When I walk in the door I have two pieces from Obsolete World (where the make-believe creatures of our childhood are captured once we discard them); and dark pieces from comic artist Montgomery Borror, Aussie artist Greg Chapman, and the stuff of nightmares from Damon Hellandbrand. So no matter where I am in my house, there’s always something that keeps me grounded in my writing.



Amanda J Spedding is a professional editor, proofreader and award-winning author whose stories have been published in local and international markets earning honourable mentions and recommended reads. She won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award (short fiction) for her steampunk-horror, 'Shovel-Man Joe'.

 
Amanda is the owner of Phoenix Editing and Proofreading, and also works with Cohesion Press as co-editor of their SNAFU series. Between bouts of editing, she is writing (and rewriting) her first novel. Her horror comic 'The Road' will be launched at Oz ComicCon in Melbourne - this doesn't terrify her at all (and if she keeps telling herself this, it will become truth). She lives in Sydney with her sarcastically-                                                                                   gifted husband and two very cool kids.



Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: JULIET MARILLIER

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.

Today we welcome one of the most successful speculative fiction authors to come out of Western Australia, and one of my personal inspirations-- the talented, personable, critically acclaimed, and all round brilliant Juliet Marillier:






Somewhere in my cluttered workspace can be found a rather odd pair of figures. If there’s any kind of fetish associated with my writing routine, it’s those two. Yoda and Cow. When my grandchildren visit, Yoda gets to use the Force on Cow, who levitates gently. But most of the time the two buddies just hang out, watching me attempt to write.

When and where did this unusual friendship begin, and why is it important to my creative effort? Well, the story started long, long ago when I wasn’t a full-time writer but a manager in a Commonwealth government department that shall remain nameless. At a certain point the powers that be decided to move the department out of its centrally located building in order to save money. My team was the last one left in the old building, working on for months while other floors and other parts of our floor emptied out around us and other staff left their junk behind.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? At last my team was up for the big move. Not only did we need to sort and pack all our own stuff, we had to dispose of all the left-behind material as well. In a rush. A skip was brought in and a mountain of objects soon filled it – not only rubbish but coffee mugs, stationery items, framed prints, material accumulated by a whole floor of office workers over quite a few years. The waste was horrendous.

As boss, I was frantically busy at this point and stressed out of my mind, but I did notice when Yoda appeared in the skip, discarded when his previous human cleared her desk. Perhaps Yoda used the Force to summon me, recognising me as someone who would know he was no mere plastic figurine. Not long after I rescued Yoda I found Cow in a wastepaper bin. The two have been with me for around 14 years now. Cow is made of some weird kind of rubber and her body has perilous structural cracks. Without Yoda to keep her strong she would have fallen apart long ago. Without Cow’s tranquil presence, Yoda would be profoundly lonely. Together they make a formidable team.

I can’t look up from my writing now without meeting their combined gaze. Jointly, they remind me of the time when I was not yet fortunate enough to write novels for a living. The time when my day job was almost unbearably stressful. I think Yoda and Cow are as happy as I am that we left that workplace for ever.


They keep me writing. Yoda is supportive but always challenging. ‘More focussed you must be,’ he tells me. ‘Write better you can.’ By contrast, there is a sweet innocence in Cow’s expression. ‘What a lovely story!’ she moos. ‘I can’t wait to read the next chapter!’

 
Juliet’s Marillier's novels combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. However, her stories focus strongly on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and her spiritual values are often reflected in her storytelling – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part.
As well as her books for adult readers, Juliet has written three novels for young adults and has contributed short fiction to several anthologies. She is a regular contributor to genre writing blog Writer Unboxed.


 
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY MAKES A PLAY FOR THE UNDERVALUED OBVIOUS DEMOGRAPHIC


"A hot date with the drummer from 'The Rabid Dogs' was not what I imagined
when you told me you were going rock climbing!"



I have a thirteen year old daughter now. This isn't anywhere near as funny as it was when I drew it. And, let's be honest, it wasn't anywhere near funny then, either.

Can't win 'em all.....

Friday, May 22, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: GILLIAN POLACK

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.

Today we welcome author and academic, Doctor Gillian Polack:





When Lee asked me about a post, I was full of ideas. They were practical and sensible ideas, for I am a practical and sensible person. I use butchers’ paper on the backs of doors to plan my fiction, for instance. This is a practical and sensible thing to do. I only do it for some novels, however, for not all of them require protection against demon infestation through the ritual application of arcane writing on portals. Currently, I’m writing something shorter and so all the paper on my doors are polite lists encouraging me to do work. Currently my flat is demon-infested. Not that this is relevant to this post, but it means that objects develop a life of their own.



I surround myself with small bits of paper in the hope that they will turn into fiction, too. They don’t. They turn into shopping lists. They turn into rude notes to myself. They turn into draft incantations against demon manifestations. They even turn into academic papers. My fiction, however, remains sublimely independent of small scraps of paper. Except that, like most things around me, this can change. I used small scraps of paper to move the history side of me to the fiction side of me for Langue[dot]doc 1305. I had a couple of hundred scraps containing key bits of detail (verified, awesome and not related at all to demon infestations, except one, where I’d found evidence that my time travellers may well have been considered as demonic by some upstanding citizens) and I put them in order the way I would for non-fiction and they magically transformed into telling detail in the novel and then equally magically disappeared into the recycling.
I like pens. I have so many pens it isn’t funny. I need at least three for each pile of scrap paper. Even if I don’t use them, I’m happy to have them round. I love their variety and the fact that they create colonies and occasionally mutate.
I use them for note taking and for editing, but not for writing. They’re part of my security blanket. They don’t write my novels, though. A computer is my main tool, and I can write anywhere. Right now, in fact, I’m writing during my evening break, which happens to be Sleepy Hollow. My viewing of choice explains why this post is haunted.
Music doesn’t work at all. Ever. Music makes me get up and dance, which is wonderful and stops my RSI getting worse, but it doesn’t get me writing. Except when it does.The Art of Effective Dreaming is full of folk songs and I’m positive that the text changes tone when I changed tunes. I’m also positive I drove two sets of neighbours to find new places to live simply by listening to my astonishing singing.
I do have systems, I do. I have comfort-objects and routines. The rub is that every novel has its own system. Ms Cellophane was partly influenced by a plague of ants, and also by a mirror I possess that was safely in my storeroom. Both ants and mirror were invoked, rather than being part of what I regularly do, which explains their quality in the novel.
So what do I do that’s not improvisational? What actually grounds me when I write?



I often start with a notebook to get the feel for a given novel into my mind and to keep it there. Because I write over a long period and other things keep intervening, I need a way to regain the mood of each novel. Other methods fail reliably. At one stage I tried collecting antiques, but I’m pretty positive this was just an excuse to collect antiques for a week (I ran out of money before I ran out of the desire for gilt cups), for that novel was never written. So I don’t buy antiques, but I do establish a memory keepsake, in the form of a notebook and I pretend to plan the novel in it. Instead of planning, what I do is mark the space with some words and imprint it on my mind that this is the mental space for that novel and this is the feel of that novel. For the tone and feel of my story, I need something I can pick up and that contains an infused memory. And, let me admit, I love notebooks.
After I’ve written a novel and contracted it, I use something to keep me on the straight and narrow: daruma dolls. My Japanese friends introduced them to me about the same time they introduced me to some of the rhymes and songs I used in The Art of Effective Dreaming, the ones that drove my neighbours away.



For every book contract I sign, I fill in one eye on a doll. For every published book, I fill in the other. Several dolls currently inhabit a shelf near my TV and each time I look they’re in a different position. The pink doll and the small red one are back to back right now, refusing to talk. The pink one thinks it’s superior, because its book is already out.
The most difficult bits of the whole writing process (besides sagging middles, which are something else entirely) are beginning the novel - moving from the props to the keyboard - and getting through the publishing process. I envy the beauty of others’ inspirational objects, but for me, the beginning and end are where I need..something. It’s like setting the table for a dinner party and washing the dishes after: they make the dinner party into a meal. Paper, pens, notebooks and daruma dolls, and the novel has the support it needs.



Gillian Polack is a writer, editor, historian and critic. Her most recent novels are The Art of Effective Dreaming (Satalyte, 2015), Langue[dot]doc 1305 (Satalyte, 2014) and Ms Cellophane (Momentum, 2012). Ms Cellophane (then called Life Through Cellophane) was shortlisted for a Ditmar. Her next book is non-fiction (The Middle Ages Unlocked, co-authored with Katrin Kania, Amberley). She has edited two anthologies and has seventen short stories published. One of her stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award and three more have been listed as recommended reading in the international lists of world’s best fantasy and science fiction short stories. 






Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY GETS IT FROM ABBIE SOMEONE

Pretty much a complete rip from a classic Gahan Wilson cartoon, this is still one of my favourite thumbnails. It's not so much the obvious grand guignol of the central gag that gets me when I look at it now, but the expression on the face of the mad doctor behind his counter-- there's such a little boy "Oh, please don't catch us out" look about him. It might not have been anywhere approaching original, but at least I captured some secondary humour by accident.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

A LITTLE LATE-NIGHT POETRY FOR THE HELL OF IT

So I'm taking over an hour of the Rockingham Writers Centre Tuesday Night writing group this week to throw some poetry exercises about, and to get people warmed up I've asked group members to write a poem starting "What good is a day..."

It's rough as guts, very much a first draft; there are edits for rhythm and to make each stanza correspond to the sentence infrastructure of the first, BUT here, at least, is my effort:

What good is a day that ends in apocalypse?
What good is a day without you?
What good is the end of the world with no witnesses?
What good is a singular view?
Where is the sound of the rapture inside of us?
Where do our souls re-align?
Where can I go when you've risen away from me?
Where do I look for a sign?
How did the horsemen ride into our love affair?
How did the bed grow so wide?
How do the oceans not swallow the continents?
How many times have we lied?
Where are the angels to carry us to our rest?
Where are the wrong and the right?
Where are the chariots bringing the sun to us?
Where are you sleeping tonight?
What good is the life that creates an apocalypse?
What good a life without you?
What good in the end of a love with no consequence?
What good can I ever do?

Friday, May 15, 2015

FETISH FRIDAY: KATIE HOLLAND

I'm running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don't get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.


This week we finally get away from the writer types as I entice one of my oldest pals to join us. Please make welcome the utter chanteuse that is Katie Holland:



“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.”

Maya Angelou



     I hate to trot out the tired clichĂ© of feeling trapped but that is precisely how I spent the first three decades of my existence. A perfect storm of poor life choices, unfulfilled dreams and mental illness came to a head in 2012 forcing me to make a decision: leave an unhappy marriage on my own two feet with some shred of sanity left, or leave it in a pine box. To avoid any confusion, the problem with the relationship was not a fundamental failing on behalf of the other party, it was my dawning realization that you can live the truth, or go bat-shit crazy trying to live a lie.

Birdcages may seem an odd choice of inspiration for a mild claustrophobe with a fear of enforced deprivation of liberty and general dislike of being restrained but there you have it. I love birdcages more than I love sequins (and as a half  European showgirl  I really love sequins). The birdcage motif adorned the house I purchased after the marriage, a sanctuary for myself and my children. An empty birdcage with an open door fills me with calm and peace, which when creating on a deadline enables the kind of focus that a working parent can sometimes find hard to muster.

   



There is a beauty and simplicity in the design. In my mind, I can enter the cage and still observe the world around me from relative safety. The open door means I can leave at any time.  Today the symbolism of the birdcage is alive and well in the house that I share with my current partner. Hanging outside, tucked in corners, peeking around door frames. To me they whisper ‘home’. 



The bird still sings, but not for the dream of freedom. She lives the dream already.




Katie Holland is a Perth based vocalist, musician, artist and occasional writer of amusing Facebook updates generally centred around “Who done a poo?” When she isn’t wrestling with the ubiquitous day job she performs with her 8 piece rock/soul/jazz/funk band “Random Act”, records as a session muso for anything from country to jazz to metal, gets her Burlesque on as saucy minx about town “Holly Hooray” and generally takes part in anything that will allow her to wear sequins, red lippy or PVC. Preferably all at the same time.

Katie lives with her partner, 3 mostly adorable though occasionally sociopathic children, and (in her dreams) a pet goat. Her partner won’t let her obtain said goat so this biog may shortly be amended to remove him, and substitute the goat. She isn’t addicted to white wine, Pepsi Max and crackers as she could give them up any time she wants to. She just doesn’t want to.










Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There's always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY CAN'T ALWAYS BE A WINNER

Bad jokes badly told. That's the Thumbnail Thursday promise. Even so, I feel the need to apologise for this one. Even Dick Emery would have turned this one down.


Disadvantages of a paperless office.