Monthly Archives: October 2011

A busy month coming up!

Over the course of the next month and a bit I have:

  • Three weddings
  • Two hens nights
  • A Thirtieth Birthday and
  • Two Book Launches

I’m tempted to add “and a partridge in a pear tree” to the end of that list because by the time all of the above is over it WILL be Christmas time!

I’m super excited about all of the above. I spend most of my life in writerly hermitude. Most of my days are conducted in leggings and hoodies, with little or no makeup and only my own company. For the next month I will be wearing DRESSES (I have bought two and they are super lovely) and being SOCIABLE! This simultaneously thrills and terrifies me.

Maybe I’ve forgotten how to do it?

I mean I do have a social life. I catch up with my writer friends on a regular basis but when we catch up we talk writing stuff. I can do that. And of course I have a husband but when we’re together we spend most of our time talking about any combination of the following:

  • My writing. Specifically the battle scenes in my writing because I suck at those and Bear is a great help.
  • What combination of skills Bear’s new character should have in Titan Quest.
  • Which are the worst kinds of zombies in Left For Dead.
  • Funny things Bear finds on Reddit.
  • Norwegian black metal.
  • Whether Brown Jenkin is in fact the most terrifying HP Lovecraft character and possibly the most terrifying character of all time.
  • Whose turn it is to unpack the dishwasher.
  • Updating the operating system on my computer.
  • Whether the fact that there are witches in Norway is a pro or con for moving there.
  • Whether we should be concerned that Mephy is starting to get in fights (HE HAS A CHUNK OF FUR OUT OF HIM ARM!!!).
  • What kind of bird it is in our garden.
  • Whether it’s only normal bin night or normal bin night AND recycling bin night.
  • Curry.
  • Our plans for world domination.

I’m willing to put this out for public opinion but I am pretty sure that none of the people at the above events will want to talk about any of the things on my list of conversation topics. That won’t be a problem for Bear who can talk about anything to anybody (he’s a master at smalltalk with strangers). But as for me? I’ve got the pretty dresses organised. I may have a tube of red lipstick hiding somewhere in a drawer. I do own one pair of high heels and my hair is actually not too crazy at the moment but …

People are going to think I am bonkers.

There. I said it.

I’m really, really, really worried about the people at these events thinking I am off my onion. I have even started doing a Bridget Jones and walking around the house thinking of non-crazy conversation topics (“Chechnya. Chechnyaaaaaaa”). But so far all I’ve come up with is “So, who do you think will win The X Factor” and “How about this weather, hey?”

There are two other alternatives, of course:

  1. I could talk about my writing incessantly. Which will bore people to tears and make them think I am bonkers (I write about shapeshifting Tasmanian devils!!!) or
  2. I could not talk at all. Which will make people think I am bonkers and rude.

So what IS the solution?

Maybe I can just send Bear as some sort of smalltalking family ambassador?

Or maybe I can just show up, be myself and remember that all the people who invited me to all these events did so because they like me, with all my bonkersness. And I can just enjoy being in the company of the best people on the planet and stop being neurotic about EVERYTHING.

And if all else fails I can just spend the night saying “Isn’t my dress super pretty?”

I’m sure as heck not going to talk about Brown Jenkin.


Where I’ve been …

Inspired by this gorgeous post by the always-fab Alien Onion on why they’ve been a bit quiet on the blogosphere lately, I thought I’d do my own little “Where I’ve Been” wrap-up. Just in case you were wondering to yourself, “Didn’t we have a friend once called Kate? You know, the writer? Sort of nerdy? Crazy hair? Had that weird obsession with metal and country music AND The Spice Girls? Ate her own body weight in Freddo Frogs on a daily basis?”

On the off chance you WERE wondering something along those lines, you’re in luck!

For the past month or so I haz been:

Doing this:

To some books about:

And …

And …

(Except bigger and more shapeshifty ones)

Savouring this:

(Yes, I know. I’m obsessed. But he’s lovely!)

Eating these:

(There’s no denying it, is there? Chocolate in the shape of anthropomorphic frogs just tastes BETTER!)

Admiring this:

(Spring in the garden!!!)

Waiting for this:

(And it came! And it’s wonderful!)

Wearing this (because unlike the multi-talented Onions I can’t knit):

(My lovely Josh Ritter tee from my Lil Bro)

Wishing I was still here:

(Laziest cat EVER!)

Laughing at this:

(And many other images sent to me by my wonderful Husband Bear)

Listening to this:

But mostly doing this:

For my family, my friends, my Mephy, my Tweeps, my wise, wonderful and supportive editors, my amazing agent and everyone who has helped me through these crazy wondrous weeks. You’re all incredible.

And so this is for you:

Because everyone knows the best thank you present is a pile of lemurs!

Books by chicks …

I was intrigued by this super interesting post by the fab Ms Tara Moss on gender inequality in the world of fiction (and scroll down to the comments. Whoa).

I’ve also been avidly following the development of The Stella Prize, a new annual literary prize that is being set up to address the under-representation of women in Australian literary prizes.

Reading Tara’s post I found myself thinking: What? People actually actively don’t buy books simply because they’re by female writers? Is this some crazy parallel universe I’ve stepped into? Are these same people avoiding checkouts manned by female shop assistants or asking for a male lawyer to be assigned to their case or that the female paediatrician looking after their child be replaced by “that nice male doctor over there”?

If these people are doing any of those things then I’m sorry …

But you’re absolutely crazycakes!

Women can do everything men can do and just as well. Sometimes better. With the exception of weeing standing up and I do believe there was a device invented to even leapfrog that particular inequality. And for pity’s sake, people! Only reading books by male authors? That would be like only eating exactly half of all possible flavours of ice cream! Sure, some of the flavours you avoid might be crap but you’ll miss out on Cookies and Cream and Old English Toffee (and have to spend a whole lifetime eating “bubblegum”. Oh the humanity)!

But I also thought I should put my money where my mouth is and have a look at the books I’ve loved over the past two years – the ones I’ve given five stars to on Goodreads – and see where the gender line is drawn in my own reading habits. Am I practising what I preach?

Maybe I do have a bias one way or the other, subconsciously. Maybe I do go for books by male authors. After all I don’t seem to have any other rhyme or reason to my book-buying. I’ll just as happily read a fantasy book as I will a family drama or a thriller or a paranormal or a historical romance.

I never would have imagined I’d go for books by blokes. But was I?

The answer? In the last two years I’ve given five stars to 58 books by female authors and 45 by male authors. Pretty balanced, slightly erring towards the girls side of things and beefed up on the male side by my two St Nicks (Earls and Hornby), my Great Scott (Westerfeld) and my … um … Neil (Gaiman). And you know what? If you’d asked me before I did that count what the balance would’ve been like I probably would have replied with an honest “I don’t know” and an even more honest “I don’t care”. Because I (obviously) loved The True Story of Butterfish as much as I loved The Adventures of Nanny Piggins; Black Painted Fingernails as much as A Pocketful of Eyes and The Scourge of Jericho as much as The Shattered City.

The gender of the author mattered as much to me as the colour of their skin, whether they were gay or straight, rich or poor, vampires or werewolves.

Good writing is good writing.

So what’s the solution to more people reading books by awesome author chicks?

Maybe we need to take a leaf out of the book of Kip, the noisy rooster in author chick Christina Booth’s beautiful picture book: Maybe we just need to crow a bit more about ourselves and people will listen. Hopefully The Stella Prize will be a big cockadoodledoo for all of us!

As Tara Moss said, “We may have come a long way, but it seems we’re not quite there yet.”

It shouldn’t be a problem but it is and sticking our chicken heads under the hay is not going to work.

It takes perceptive people to notice a problem and creative people to come up with a solution. As writers we’re both. If anybody can win this fight we can.

Two girls, two boys, and one very memorable holiday in Baliā€¦ Book 20 in the Girlfriend Fiction series. Fall in love with something real.

Three Things About Daisy Blue was released in October 2010 by Allen & Unwin.

See the book page here for more info!

THYLA is a story of Tasmania: of darkness, of convicts, of devils and tigers, and of promises that stay true through the centuries. It is the story of what happened to Cat, and what Tessa really is.

Thyla was released in April 2011 by Random House Australia!

See the book page here for more info!

The Grand Final and me …

Leunig's beautiful "Street Football"

I’m a sporting numpty. I don’t know my Warnes from my Williamses; my Cadels from my Kewells. If you asked me to name a single Rugby Union player I’d be hard pressed. My dad has spent numerous weekends trying to teach me about cricket. To me it looks simple: Man throws ball, Man hits ball with wooden paddle, other Men try and catch ball, Man who hit ball and other Man who is also holding a paddle for some reason since he isn’t hitting ball run up and down a rectangle until ball comes back. I thought I had it down. But no. There are googlies and LBWs and silly mid thingies and even DUCKS involved! How had I not noticed the DUCKS amidst all of that?

Dad despairs of me. Mum does too because, like cricket, I never “got” tennis (which she loves). Apart from when Agassi was playing. Because he was a spunk. And all I know about soccer is that there used to be a player called Robbie Fowler. I know this because Sporty Spice liked him.

Maybe my disinterest in sport is down to the fact I was always quite awful at it. My mum never lets me forget the Grade Seven swimming carnival when she (a teacher at my school) was mortified because I had to be rescued from the pool during the backstroke. I was swimming around in circles. Because I wasn’t looking where I was going. Because I didn’t want to get water in my eyes.

Indeed the only sport I was ever good at was running. Because, really, you can’t stuff up running in a straight line (although, one might argue, the same could be said for swimming backstroke …).

So, after telling you all of that, one might wonder why I’m now about to watch the AFL Grand Final.

The answer: not the guys in short shorts. They don’t particularly interest me. I had a huge disagreement with my dad during our trip to Melbourne about how boring footballers are these days. They are just gym-chiselled, oily-looking machines with no personality (feel free to argue with me here). I miss the Jason Dunstalls and Johnny Plattens and Dermies and Dippers of the world – beefy (or, in Platten’s case, scrawny) dudes for whom footy wasn’t their whole life; who just played it on the weekend and went off to normal jobs during the week. I’ll never forget hearing that Daniel Chick worked in a bedding shop during the week.

And yes, Rache, we all remember Matthew Liptak was a doctor!

Footy players used to have a bit of personality and a larrikin spirit and I think so much has been lost with the huge salaries that mean the players are now footballing robots who don’t drink all season and then go mental once the season’s over. They look boring to me, these new boys in short shorts. I’m not a gym junkie kind of girl. My first boyfriend spent more time with his arms around a barbell than he did with his arms around me and it put me off huge muscles for life.

This new, skilfully-played, polished until it’s squeaky game is much less interesting to me than the one played during the 80’s, when I first became obsessed with footy (it was Steven Kernahan’s fault. He was my third crush, after David Bowie and Tim Curry. Dad was more worried about the fact I loved a Carlton player than he was about the fact I crushed on men in makeup). Yes, the players are supremely talented. But, really, I’m longing for a bit of biff.

I know. I’m a pacifist vegetarian. I should not long for biff but … ooohhh! I just spotted some players having a “fracas” on the ground! No! No, Mr Geelong player, don’t pull them apart! Things were just getting interesting!

Anyway, where was I?

So it’s not the shorts. It’s not, particularly, the game itself (although it is the one sport I understand fully – go figure) that means I love watching a game of footy. So what is it?

Nostalgia, I guess. Nostalgia for those days watching footy with my dad when I was a kid, cheering on Dermie and Dipper while Dad had a stubbie of Boag’s Draught and I ate Salt and Vinegar Samboys. Thrilling in sharing cheers of “Go Hawkies” with my beloved father; feeling like it was something we shared.

Nostalgia, also, for a time a bit later when my close circle of friends and I were all footy-maniacs – when I was in love with Daniel Harford and my friend Rache changed her allegiances to become a Crows supporter solely because Modra was a spunk; when she sent me Valentines Day cards from Shane Crawford and I sent her cards back from the aforementioned Dr Liptak; when we’d hold Brownlow dinners dressed up in our best frocks and when we had a surprise Geelong-themed party for my friend Mellie (my non-footy-fan Shel even learned the words to the theme song especially for the occasion).

That’s why I’m going for the Cats today. Because Mellie goes for the Cats. If the Crows were playing I’d go for them for Rache. If the Swans were playing, in support of my mate Chlo, I’d be cheering for the red and the white.

If the Hawkies were playing I’d probably be hiding behind the couch right now because, like my dad, my heart can’t handle watching the Hawks play crucial games.

I also love days when it feels like we’re all in this together. Most of Australia is watching this game right now. I know Rache and Mel and Chlo will be watching it up on the North West Coast. My parents-in-law are watching in in Ulverstone. My dad will be watching it in Hobart. My mum might even be watching it. Even though she hates football even she gets into the spirit today. All over Australia – and even maybe overseas – we’re all watching these boys in short shorts kicking a strangely-shaped ball around. It’s a game where ethnic minorities play with white Australians and where indigenous Aussies are perhaps the best players of all (after all, they did invent the game, didn’t they?).

In the parks near my house, fathers and sons will be kicking plastic balls around at half time.

It might just be a sport and I might be a sporting numpty but I love this day. To everyone else out there who loves this day, for whatever reason …