Scary scene number one

This afternoon, I took my courage in both hands and visited my local library branch with the usual pile of books to return … and a copy of My Very Own Book.

I respectfully asked whether the library was happy to speak directly with authors, or whether whoever was in charge of book-ordering would prefer to be approached by the publisher.

Well, they asked me to sit at their desk while they called the library events manager over, who phoned the acquisitions librarian (at another branch) and was very excited to hold, feel, and flip through the book; read the author bio; and take my business card. They were also clearly happy to hear that I would be launching The Pale at Readings Carlton – because (OMG) they use Readings’ monthly book-review magazine as a guide to purchases!!!

Result: they will order in a copy – one to start with, they said 🙂 – and put me on their list to invite as a featured author in the 2018 calendar of events. Result is right!

My tips from this terrifying event:

  1. If you don’t ask, you can never get YES for an answer – this goes for Readings as well as the library
  2. It is definitely worthwhile to have a good-looking, ‘pretty’ business card (I have MOO’s ‘Chelsea Groves’ as seen above)
  3. Elijah Toten’s cover art on The Pale is a real winner (I already knew that!)
  4. Just go for it. They can only say no. Plus I don’t think any librarian would be rude to an author, so libraries should be a safe space for us.

All systems GO!

It’s release day here at the desk, with a great deal of leaping about to celebrate the Actual Bookness of The Pale. Click here to see the announcement by my favourite publisher.

It is also slightly surreal to know that such a thing exists.  Oh my goodness!



A reflection on dying be degrees

One of the things that makes me sad amidst all the excitement of my novel being published is that my mum doesn’t know it’s happening. I will show her the book once I have it in my hot little hand, but given that she now has no idea what day it is or what time it is, events and dates have become completely meaningless. If by next week she is still as (comparatively) alert as she is today, then she will look at it kind of blankly and nod. If I then put it into her hand, she will very probably say ‘Thank you.’

I am grateful, though, that she still recognises me. That’s a blessing in all the sadness.

A milestone I never knew about

I have been told – and yes, seen for myself – that The Pale is now available for pre-orders. Yes, Novella Distribution already has a way to buy the book 🙂

So I realise that I have passed a milestone that I hadn’t even thought about. My book is available to buy even though the launch is more than a month in the future. Excellent. It’s more learning on the way to being a fiction author.

And very nice to know!

So it begins

Just this week, I have fabulous news that the lovely, lovely Readings Carlton are going to host the launch event for my novel The Pale. Such exciting news! So I’m spending this week making sure that I invite everyone I can think of, anyone who might be even remotely interested in having a glass of wine, hearing me read a page from the book, and watching me sign copies! More details as they come to hand 🙂

One of the best-est things about Readings (as if thousands of books, masses of music, fabulously useful book reviews and conversible, knowledgable staff isn’t enough!) is The Readings Foundation, to which they devote 10% of their profits. To date, Readings has contributed over $120,000 to causes that pormote literacy and education to the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Gotta love that!

Beastly ideas

The Pale (SO excited! very close to publication day!), as you might know, features dog/wolf-like creatures who can think, talk, debate, take action, and make decisions about how best to live in the damaged post-Cataclysm world they have inherited. These characters are called canini and they are very close to my heart.

Talking dogs is not such a new idea, I know, but I am forced to ponder my protagonists in the light of two books I have just read. (And in considering the canini’s part in the two planned sequels to The Pale!)

These two books are separated in genre (philosophy vs fantasy) and in time (2002 vs 2017), reflecting quite different understandings of the place of sentient non-humans in our lives and in the physical world.

In one, JK Rowling, channeling that delightful wizard Newt Scamander, wonders about the status of ‘beasts’ versus ‘beings’:

“We now ask ourselves, which of these creatures is a ‘being’ – that is to say, a creature worthy of legal rights and a voice in the governance of the magical world – and which is a ‘beast’?”*

In the other, philosopher Raimond Gaita outlines his thinking about the consciousness of animals, dogs in particular. Gaita avers that one fundamental difference between human consciousness and that of dogs is knowledge of death:

“Because animals have no reflective knowledge of death, they cannot dread it and if they could, they could not take comfort from the fact that they are not alone in their mortality. It is a fact utterly basic to human life that we are consoled by the knowledge that others suffer as we do and die as we must.”**

I know that the canini function more as beings than as beasts in The Pale, because they are certainly worthy of rights and of a say in their future. They also think about the value of their lives, the work of a good life, and the inevitability of death. The human-ish characters in The Pale – at least some of them – are perhaps more beastly. I need to ponder and reflect a bit more. The fundamental beast/being contrast is an idea that I am already exploring.


*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander (JK Rowling), Bloomsbury, London, 2017, p. xviii.


**The Philosopher’s Dog, Raimond Gaita, Text, Melbourne, 2002, p. 72.


That’s a nice shirt

There’s been a hiatus while I attended to large life events, but I’m hoping for more time and discipline now. At least I have a fresh source of stories from my mother’s new neighbourhood. Here’s a little tale she told me this week:

It’s breakfast time again. Marlene stalks across the carpet on her two canes and nudges her usual chair. Across from her, George lifts his eyes from contemplation of his plate of toast.

‘That’s a nice shirt,’ he says.

‘Oh, are you there?’ says Marlene, bending like a paperclip as she inserts herself between the chair and the table. ‘My daughter bought it for me.’

‘Did she visit?’

‘No, she sent it by helicopter.’


Marlene frowns at her plate. ‘Toast.’

Pamela approaches, bustling her wheeled chair in stilted lurches through the patterned axminster. ‘Move away!’ she warns the young nurse beside her. The nurse dispenses her characteristic wide smile, and helps Pamela manouever up to the table. ‘There now. I’ll get your coffee.’

‘Wait!’ calls Marlene. ‘Wait! There’s toast on my plate.’

‘Yes, that’s right, Marlene. You always have toast.’

‘And a banana! And a banana!’

‘Yes,’ replies the nurse, ‘but we have no bananas today.’

George lifts his chin, which he does when deeply moved. He sounds a note to get the key, and begins a loud and stirring rendition of ‘Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!’

Pamela says to Marlene between phrases, ‘That’s a nice shirt.’


Image from Wikimedia commons: By Poulsen, Harry – Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain,


Diagnosis blues

This week has been quite a difficult one. We discovered that our mother has a brain tumour. While this explains all of the bizarre and inconsistent and unreliable behaviour that we’ve been noticing recently, it’s a bit of a shock.

Did I tell you how Mum was acting more and more strangely and refusing help? Well, one day a couple of weeks ago she took herself off to the doctor in a taxi (at a time when she should have been home for the cleaner – resulting in multiple phone calls with the next step being the police! – because she didn’t tell anyone she was going – but that’s another story). Mum went to ask if she had dementia, so the doctor ordered a CT scan that afternoon. The first I knew about it was a call from Mum saying I had to take her to the hospital for a brain scan. All the way there, she criticised her children as being too managing, too interfering, too nosy, and for sending too many helpers, and making too many phone calls, and ordering the wrong food to be delivered. She was certain that the brain scan would show no dementia and that after the diagnosis we could all just leave her alone, thank us very much. Very Greta Garbo.

The upshot is, after a lengthy scan and a trip back to the GP, that she has a meningioma which is not malignant in itself, but steadily growing and impacting on her brain function. Off we went to the neurosurgeon next day, who ruled out surgery (her bad health and a long recovery time) and any other treatment (tumour too large for radio). And a palliative care team has been allocated to us.

So it’s been  an interesting time, negotiating all of us siblings and our diverse opinions. Mum, on the other hand, is very stoic and quite serene, and says she’s much happier now that she knows. She is calling everyone in her address book to tell them she has a brain tumour!

Greta Garbo ‘Wild Orchids’ film still from Wikimedia Commons at

Living on the edge

The older couple wriggled their way through to the front of the crowd. In only a few minutes, the aging rock star of their courting days would pass by in his elevated limo, beaming and waving, flashing the shiny ceramic imposter of his once-famous  smile. The old woman had prepared a small bunch of flowers to throw – nothing too heavy, for their idol was even older than they, and nobody wanted an incident: Aged Groupie’s Gladiolus Tribute Takes Out Star’s Eye. The crowd of younger fans eddied and heaved around them. The old man took her elbow, protecting her somewhat from the metal barrier that lined the roadway as well as the press of people behind.

A rising tide of sound marked where the star’s cavalcade was approaching from the left. As the wave of excitement rolled towards the old couple, a security guard unhitched the metal barrier. The pair suddenly found themselves staggering onto the roadway. As they disappeared under the great wheels of the big black car, the guard re-hitched the barrier.

Another group of fans squeezed their way to the front. Here’s the next lot, thought the guard, carefully folding her wings behind her. She looked over the crowd to the back, where new people joined the throng in an irregular pattern, not unlike the on-and-off disappearance of those at the front. Like lemmings, she thought, so eager for life that they fall right off the edge without even realising it.

She unhitched the barrier again, and waved another few people through.


Image: Public Domain,